The South Bay Lakers (1-0), the G League affiliate of the Los Angeles Lakers, kicked off the regular season in dramatic fashion on Thursday night, taking down the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (1-1), 130-121, at the UCLA Health Training Center.
Fresh off an NBA call-up from the Atlanta Hawks, South Bay forward Cameron Oliver led the Lakers with a career-high 30 points on an efficient 12-18 field-goal shooting night to go with nine rebounds. Fellow starter Nate Pierre-Louis had a dominant all-around performance as well, finishing with 18 points on 7-10 field-goal shooting and a career-high 11 rebounds in his first career double-double.
South Bay came out hot to start the game as Chaundee Brown Jr., back in a Lakers uniform for the first time since receiving an NBA call-up from the Atlanta Hawks, dropped seven of his 18 points in the opening frame as the Lakers jumped out to a 26-18 advantage after 12 minutes of play. Andre Ingram, the G League’s all-time leader in three-pointers made, came off the bench and hit three shots from distance in the first half to help South Bay hold a narrow lead at the break, 57-51.
Rio Grande Valley big man Tyler Bey paced the Vipers coming out of halftime with nine points (3-3 FG) in the third frame, and the away team was able cut South Bay’s lead to just three points going into the fourth quarter, 89-86. Despite a strong push from the fiery Vipers squad in the final 12 minutes, South Bay held on to the lead and secured the victory, 130-121, thanks to an offensive explosion with 41 points in the quarter.
Lakers two-way player Mason Jones (17 points, eight assists) and starting guard Frank Mason III (19 points, seven rebounds, five assists) had strong performances on the night as well as Andre Ingram off the bench with 15 points on 4-7 three-point shooting.
12-year NBA veteran Gerald Green, back in uniform for the first time since he announced his retirement in 2021, looked sharp in his debut, posting a team-high 20 points to go with six rebounds and three blocks. Fellow starters Marcus Foster and Marvin Smith tallied 18 points apiece for the Vipers while Christian Vital led the bench unit with 17 points on the night.
The South Bay Lakers will be back in action tomorrow night, Friday, January 14, as they take travel to take on the Salt Lake City Stars (0-2) at 6:00 P.M. PT at the Bruin Arena.